Polychrome tripod vase with a dynastic hieroglyphic sequence. The text is divided into four vertical bands, each one with two columns of three glyphs, mentioning five Kanul Lords with their accession dates. The text has the following reading:
[On the day] 7 Chuwen 18 Pop, Chan Tiliw?; Divine lord of the realm of the serpent [Calakmul]; grabbed the K'awiil [took power] [On the day] 12 Imix 12 Yaxk'in; Taj Chan K'ihnich; divine lord and emperor of the kingdom of the serpent [Calakmul]; grabbed the K'awiil [took power] [on the day] 3 Imix 12 Yax; [anthroponym]; grabbed the K'awiil [take the power] [on the day] 3 Etz'nab '4 Muwan; Taj Chak B'aak; divine lord of the realm of the serpent [Calakmul]; grabbed the K'awiil [took power] [on the day] 13 Ajaw 8 Zotz '; Chak?; [grabbed K'awiil; took power].
This is one of twelve dynastic vases that have surfaced in museums and private collections, all of them with a similar text arrangement.
Past and current interpretations indicate that the rulers acceding to the throne belonged to the Kingdom of the Serpent and the Kanul Kingdom, meaning “where snakes are abundant”. The exact location of this kingdom is not known since the Kanul Ahaw moved several times in history. It is believed that Nakbé was the primary seat of political power in the Middle Pre-Classic (800-200 BC) and El Mirador was the capital during the Late Pre-Classic (200 BC – 250 AD) when it was the largest city in the region -communicated with important centers through an extensive network of causeways and having the capacity of controlling a long distance trade route. During the Early Classic (250- 600 AD) though, it was located in Dzibanché and then moved to Calakmul, north of the Mirador "basin".
In the texts of these vessels, Simon Martin (1997) identified a list of all the rulers going back to the founder of the Kaanu'l dynasty. Each of the clauses begin with a Calendar Round date followed by the verbal expression ch'amaw k'awiil, "he grabbed the k'awiil" referring to the act of taking the power of the scepter of god K or K'awiil, the Mayan God of the royal lineages and associated to the accession of rulers. Immediately after the verb we find the subject, which is the name of a ruler of the site followed by its respective emblem which identifies him as K'uhul Kaanu'l 'Ajaw, "Divine Lord of the Kingdom of the Serpent."
Some differences appear among all these vessels, usually in the dates, which are either impossible or mythological and rarely correspond to their historical counterparts (those carved on monuments). The glyphs that are highlighted in red correspond to the holy days of the Tzolk'in, or 260-day calendar, because there is a strong association between these days and blood (Kantún, personal communication, 2013).
Although initially it was believed it could be a list of Kaanu'l Lords, this list does not correspond to the sequence known from other inscriptions. Erik Velásquez and Stanley Guenter (2001) argue that, even if it were a flashback sequence that makes reference to the Late Pre-Classic, we need to be very naive not to see such a list in a critical or skeptical way, knowing that such narratives "of origin" tend to be rhetorical.
Text transcription and collaboration by Epigraphers Camilo Alejandro Luín (Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala) and Guillermo Kantún Rivera (Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán)